LOWELL, Mass. — Given how tight games have been this season between the Portland Pirates and the Lowell Devils, could it be an indication of things to come in the Calder Cup playoffs?

Could be.

Cory Murphy’s goal at 1:52 of overtime Saturday gave Lowell a 3-2 victory, the sixth time in nine games the outcome has been decided by one goal.

“It’s nice having a good cushion on them in the standings,” Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said while referring to the seven-point lead the second-place Pirates have over Lowell in the AHL Atlantic Division. “But we’ve got to recognize right now there’s probably a decent chance we’ll see them in the playoffs. It’s either Lowell or Manchester. It seems that’s the way it’s going to play out if things keep going the way they are.

“Our players are aware of it. These are big games for us. They’re probably extremely happy with the extra point the game could have gone either way.”

In fact, were it not for blown coverage, the Pirates might have played in their fourth consecutive shootout. But Murphy squashed that possibility when he drilled a slap shot that clanged in off the crossbar.


“Murphy had a screen and it was a heck of a shot,” Dineen said of the goal that eluded J.P. Lamoureux, who made 27 saves, 14 in the third period.

“There was a mistake coming up the ice. One of our guys missed his coverage. It was a pretty basic play. A guy’s coming back like that, you’ve got to make that coverage.

“We didn’t make the effort to get back and it ends up in our net.”

After managing only one shot in the first 61/2 minutes of the second period, Portland broke a 1-1 tie after Lowell’s Matt Taormina was sent to the penalty box at 11:30.

Portland needed only 13 seconds to score when Tyler Ennis redirected a shot by Nathan Gerbe that deflected off a defender and past goalie Mike McKenna, who had 19 saves.

That lead lasted until 17:18 when the Devils went on a power play and Michael Swift stuffed home the rebound of Murphy’s shot for his second goal of the game.


Swift gave Lowell a 1-0 lead barely 2 minutes after the opening faceoff when he skated across the crease and backhanded a shot past Lamoureux.

Portland tied it at 11:04 when Cody McCormick snapped home a shot after getting a pass from Paul Byron.

“It’s getting to the point where every game’s going to have a playoff atmosphere,” Gerbe said. “There aren’t any easy games from here on out. We know how good Lowell is and I think they know that we’re also a dangerous team.

“It’s the same with Manchester and Worcester in our division. We know each game’s going to be close and you have to be ready.

“Lately our team’s done a pretty good job in overtime and shootouts, so it’s frustrating (to lose Saturday), but again, you’ve got to take care of the puck or it comes back to bite you.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.